Ecology is Washington’s environmental protection agency. Their mission is to protect, preserve, and enhance Washington’s land, air, and water for current and future generations. Ecology’s Water Quality Program provides support for water quality projects such as stream restoration, education and outreach. The Methow Water Quality Restoration and Monitoring Project is a local project designed to address critically warm stream temperatures in the Methow watershed through riparian restoration, effectiveness monitoring, and public outreach and education.
Since 1996, stream temperatures – a critical component of fish habitat – have increased to levels detrimental to the threatened and endangered salmonids present in the Methow watershed as witnessed by Washington State 303(d) listings for the Methow River and a major tributary, the Chewuch River. The Methow River watershed has undergone significant anthropogenic alteration over the past century, which has impacted riparian habitat and water quality. Numerous impacts stemming from agricultural and residential development have conspired to reduce instream flow, limit channel functionality, diminish water quality and reduce the extent and availability of riparian vegetation. It is well documented that the removal and alteration of riparian vegetation can have significant effects on water quality including elevating stream temperature.
The goal of the Methow Water Quality Restoration and Monitoring Project is to improve water quality conditions in the Methow watershed through implementation of riparian restoration actions designed to increase site potential shade, and riparian and instream habitat complexity. Water quality monitoring will provide the data necessary to assess project effectiveness at decreasing temperature. Public outreach will engage the local community to develop a sense of community understanding and ownership of water quality, and the actions underway to improve it in the Methow.